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Guide to Berlin's Pergamon Museum

Our Guide to Berlin’s Pergamon Museum: 10 Things You Must See

March 16, 2017 10:00 am by

Spanning centuries and various corners of the world, here’s a handy guide to Berlin’s┬áPergamon Museum and its incredible collection of historical artefacts!

Comprising of exhibits dedicated to breathtaking Islamic art and reconstructions of ancient buildings, the Pergamon Museum is one of the most frequently visited sites in Berlin and a cultural institution for the capital. It’s easy to spend hours wandering its rooms, however if you’re short on time here’s a quick guide to the Pergamon Museum and its highlights.

Berlin's Pergamon Museum
Image via Pergamonmuseum facebook

Market Gate of Miletus

Located in the Architecture of Antiquity collection, this gigantic marble facade used to be the entrance to an ancient Miletus market built roughly in 120AD. As with the Ishtar Gate, the Market Gate of Miletus is a reconstruction as the original gate was damaged in an earthquake, then again during World War Two. However, over half of it has been built with the rubble from the original and it remains a stunning example of ancient Roman architecture with tall Corinthian columns towering over those who stand before it.

Mshatta Facade

The Pergamon Museum honours stunning ancient Islamic works and the Mshatta Facade is certainly worth of the title. This exquisitely detailed structure dates all the way back to the 8th century and more specifically was a part of the Umayyad winter palace Qasr Mshatta. Taken from its ruins in Jordan and conserved as part of the Pergamon Museum, it’s a highlight of the Pergamon Museum of Islamic Art.

Berlin's Pergamon Museum
Image via Pergamonmuseum facebook

Ishtar Gate

This stunning navy and gold gate was once the eighth gate into Babylon’s inner city, intimidating and inspiring all that passed through it. While the Pergamon exhibit is technically a reconstruction of the 575 BC gate, it was rebuilt using materials from the original and is a highlight of the Ancient Near Eastern Antiquities wing of the museum. Covered in animals that signify gods and goddesses, it was built by King Nebuchadnezzar II to beautify the city and when built was world renowned for its stunning architecture.

Berlin's Pergamon Museum
Image via Pergamonmuseum

Processional Way of Babylon

Linked to the Ishtar Gate, the path into the inner city had two walls decorated in the gate’s iconic mosaics. Visitors to the museum can pass through the gate into a hall lined with the Processional Way’s bricks and mosaics, which were once the pride and joy of Babylon.

Epic of Gilgamesh Fragment

This is another Ancient Near Eastern Antiquities highlight and is a small fraction of the Epic of Gilgamesh, a Mesopotamia poem that details the history of Sumerian King Gilgamesh. Largely regarded to be the oldest surviving work of literature, this fragment is covered in text and comes from a larger tablet named the Sippar Tablet and has proved invaluable in studies of the poem.

Berlin's Pergamon Museum
Image via Pergamonmuseum

Aleppo Room

Dating back to the 17th Century, this ornate room belonged to a prominent Christian living in Aleppo and is painted with references to Christian stories, influenced by the art style of Islamic illustrators and nature scenes. Covered in panels depicting the Virgin Mary, psalms as well as flowers, it’s possible to see the name of one of its craftsmen Halab Shah ibn Isa on its walls.

Berlin's Pergamon Museum
Image via Pergamonmuseum facebook

Pergamon Altar

While the Pergamon Altar won’t be open to the public until 2019 while its exhibit is renovated, it’s still a key feature of the museum named after it. Taken from a second century BC Hellenstic temple, in the midst of the reconstructed Altar Room sits the stunning work of religious art itself which depicts Olympian gods locked in battle against the Titans.

Berlin's Pergamon Museum

Victory Stele of King Esarhaddon

This broken tablet was found piece by piece during a German archaeological expedition and has since been united in the Pergamon Museum. Carved with a likeness of the Assyrian King Esarhaddon standing victorious over two prisoners, it’s also covered in text that tells the story and context of his victory – namely a battle in Egypt in 671BC.

Orpheus Mosaic

Once a feature of an ancient Roman house in Miletus, this intricate mosaic depicts Orpheus, a musician of legend who travelled to the underworld in hopes of bringing his lover Eurydice back to life. Renowned for his skill for music that could soften even Hades’ heart, he’s shown in the mosaic surrounded by woodland animals enchanted by his lyre.

Berlin's Pergamon Museum

Flask with Polo Players

This beautiful flask is made out of enamelled glass, which was popular in Egypt and Syria, and is delicately detailed with polo riders in gold. As a part of the Museum of Islamic Art, it became a part of the collection in 1913 after passing through the German collector Count Pourtales’ hands.

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